IT MAY STILL BE HOT BUT FALL ALLERGIES ARE HERE

We here in the hot hot Texas summer can at least know that when October shows up the outdoor steam sauna should go away for a while. Unfortunately for those of us with nasal allergies the autumn weed pollen season has already started.

No one likes weeds. To a gardener, the very word weed is associated with something unwanted that needs to be removed. In the spring, when our allergies are bad, at least we can appreciate the beauty of trees or grasses making us sick. But weeds are hard to like.

Weeds of course grow year round. They send out their annual pollen mainly in what is traditionally considered to be fall. But according to whatever calendar our weeds use, this is now autumn. Weed pollen counts usually start to rise in our area about August 25, and this year has been right on schedule.

Flowering ragweed plant growing outside, a common allergen

The one weed most commonly associated with allergy is ragweed. Ragweed is very common, grows very tall and is a pollen factory, making its spread easy to understand. There are actually four different types of ragweed. In my office we test patients for all four. While I believe ragweed deserves to be hated by the stuffy nose sufferers, I need to point out that here in the Montgomery County area many other allergy causing weeds exist. They have names like marsh elder, sheep sorrel, red root pigweed and English plantain. In my allergy practice we test for those and many others. I have found many folks don’t react to ragweed. It’s the other weeds making them sick.

In most parts of the United States, once a person with allergies survives the fall weed pollen months, December brings relief. Sadly, that just doesn’t happen to us in Texas. Just as the weeds are thankfully stopping pollen production we get a special Holiday season bonus called Mountain Cedar pollen.Mountain Cedar really is not a Cedar tree but an evergreen Juniper. I tell my patients it makes you feel bad from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day. Around Austin they call it Cedar Fever as the pollen makes you feel like a sinus infection mixed with the flu.

In my office we treat allergy sufferers with a variety of treatments. Not only are there many prescription medications that help, but I’m familiar with many alternative medication treatments. And of course allergy immunotherapy (shots or oral drops ) is a truly natural cure by switching your immune system from causing allergies to fighting infection.

Shakespeare wrote: “Sweet flowers are slow, and weeds make haste.” When the weeds are too fast and too many to fight, my office is there.